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5.1.1 Contribution of cassava as household food security

The average Nigerian meets about 95 percent of the minimum energy requirements mainly from cereals and roots and tubers, followed by grain legumes. Cereals constitute the highest group of foods produced and consumed in the northern zones of the country while roots and tubers constitute the highest group in the south and central zones. Grain legumes feature more prominently in the food production system in the north and are prominent in both northern and southern food baskets.

Cassava food products are the most important staples of rural and urban households in southern Nigeria. Current estimates show that the dietary calorie equivalent of per capita consumption of cassava in the country amounts to about 238 kcal (Cock, 1985). This is derived from the consumption of gari (toasted granules), chips/flour, fermented pastes and/or fresh roots, the principal cassava food forms.

In the south, cassava followed by yam is the staple food. Yam consumption in most of the south is seasonal, being highest in the months of November to January, the period of harvest. Thereafter, cassava products and other supplementary foods take over.

In the Middle Belt yam is the preferred staple in most of the zone followed by cassava. These crops are grown primarily for food and consumed as such but substantial proportions are sold. About 60 percent of yam is consumed while about 40 percent may be sold while 40 percent of cassava is consumed and the rest (60 percent) sold. During the growing season or hungry period, as much as 50 percent of food intake is from cassava along with grains, as less yam is available. The importance of minor tubers (cocoyam and sweet potato) in the daily diet is far less than that of yam and cassava products.

In all locations, cassava has become a very popular crop and is fast replacing yam and other traditional staples of the area, gaining ground increasingly as an insurance crop against hunger. As shown earlier, cassava is also a major cash crop. A large proportion of cassava, probably larger than from most other staples, is planted purposely for sale. In comparison with other staples, cassava generates income for the largest number of households. Planting of high yielding varieties has resulted in higher cash income, especially in areas with access to improved technology and market in Benue Imo and Ogun RRAs suggest that income from the marketing of cassava produce generates up to 34 percent of the total household farm income in Imo and Ogun States and 20 percent in Benue State. Considerable income is also generated from cassava processing. As women are largely responsible for growing and processing cassava, it provides them with an income-earning opportunity, enabling them to purchase commodities which can contribute to household food security.

5.1.2 Industrial utilization of cassava roots

Processing of agricultural products in Nigeria is as old as farming itself. In Nigeria, traditional foods processed at home or in small-scale cottage operations constitute the principal mode of utilization of cassava. Commercial livestock producers are fast adopting the use of cassava processed by-products in livestock feeding, appreciating its great potential in feed formulations. Cassava is also useful in several other industries, such as baking and brewing but the domestic consumption of cassava products has resulted in a limited availability of cassava products for industrial use.


In most parts of rural Nigeria, division of labour within the household is gender-specific and according to age. Women play a prominent role in agricultural production. The extent of their involvement in agricultural production and their contribution to the household food basket varies from one ethnic group to another.

However, there are characteristics which are common throughout. They normally do weeding, planting and harvesting but the increased involvement of women in land clearing and preparation, traditionally performed by men, has been necessitated by the migration of men from home for off-farm employment or in part-time work off their farms. Also the reduction of the fallow period has made land clearing and preparation easier and increased women's involvement in such activities.

Overall, women play a central role in cassava production, contributing about 58 percent of the total agricultural labour in the southwest, 67 percent in the southeast and 58 percent in the central zones, with involvement in virtually all activities, hoeing, weeding, harvesting, transporting, storing, processing, marketing and domestic chores (IFAD, 1994).

They are almost entirely responsible for processing agricultural commodities. Women also play a dominant role in marketing of cassava produce. They assist their husbands in marketing cassava and other crops and also market their own crops. In many cases, women buy the agricultural produce from their husbands and other farmers and market this at a profit. At times, they buy cassava in the soil, harvest, process and market.

Small-scale cassava processing is the domain of women, although most of the mechanized equipment (graters and grinders) are owned and operated by men. It is necessary to ensure that the shift from manual to mechanical processing does not put them in a disadvantaged position in terms of employment and income earning opportunities. It is therefore important to consider gender issues in designing mechanized processing facilities.



There is a strong demand for cheap food, especially cassava products within Nigeria. Since the mid-1980s, real producer prices have increased as a consequence of devaluation of the Naira abolition of the commodity boards and import restrictions on selected foodstuffs and animal feed. As a result, consumers have shifted from expensive foods such as meat, eggs, bread and rice, towards locally-produced staples such as cassava, maize, sorghum and yam; and farmers have responded by producing more of these crops. Despite this response, some people and some areas suffer from seasonal food deficits.

Cassava production has increased significantly, particularly in the last decade, partly through the adoption of higher yielding varieties, but mostly through an increase in the area cropped with cassava. As noted earlier, current estimates of cassava production are around 34 million tonnes per annum; over 90 percent of this is consumed and about 50 percent of total cassava production is marketed (Nweke et al, 1994).


The marketing system for traditional crops including cassava and its products is characterized by fluctuations in supply and the law of supply and demand determines product prices. The current marketing arrangements for cassava and cassava-based products are therefore devoid of government intervention, so the market as it were, operates without distortion. Marketing activities are carried out by private traders who operate in both rural and urban markets.

To forestall early deterioration and also due to its bulky nature, cassava is usually traded in some processed form, generally gari or chips/flour. In other words, there is a limited trade in fresh cassava roots.

The marketing channel of gari, the most commonly traded cassava product, consists mainly of five alternative flow channels. First there is the movement from the producer through the rural wholesale/assembler and rural market retailer to the rural consumers. The second channel is the movement from the producer through the processor to either the rural assembler or retailer. The third flow channel is the movement from the processor to the urban market wholesalers, retailers and even to the consumers, while the fourth possible channel is that arising directly from the producer to the rural or urban consumers. The fifth channel is from the producer directly to the rural retailers. Currently, the Federal Government has removed the ban on the exportation of yam and cassava products. This barrier has enhanced cross-border trade in cassava products.

6.2.1 Fresh cassava roots

In parts of the north, raw roots of 'sweet types' of cassava are eaten as snacks (rogo). Otherwise, most harvested roots are processed. The marketing of fresh cassava roots is directly related to a number of factors. Due to their bulkiness, weight and high perishability, fresh cassava roots cannot be transported over a long distance. Usually tubers are sold, either unharvested in the ground, or harvested and sold in heaps at the farm gate or in rural markets.

6.2.2 Dry cassava chips

Traditionally, cassava chips are the intermediate products in one of the pathways of flour production. Currently, cassava chips are being industrially converted to alcohol in one of Nigeria's foremost alcohol manufacturing companies, the Nigerian Yeast and Alcohol Manufacturing Company (NIYAMCO), consuming 24 tonnes of cassava chips daily. This is an indication that the demand for cassava products as a raw material for the manufacturing industries is on the increase in Nigeria. This, of course, is one of the ways the current cassava production rate could be sustained.

There is no doubt that the cost of chip production is the lowest compared to other cassava products. This may explain the desire of many Nigerian entrepreneurs to export cassava chips to overseas countries to earn foreign exchange. Closer examination of the business of exporting cassava chips reveals that the viability of this venture is constrained by the pressure on cassava in Nigeria as a local main staple compared to other major exporters of cassava chips such as Thailand where the commodity is not a major staple. Nigeria cannot benefit from the current international market price of cassava chips which sells at US$175/tonne. A cost benefit analysis indicates an average of Naira 3 000/tonne of fresh roots and the requirement of 4 tonnes of roots for production of one tonne of chips, together with packaging and haulage costs. Nigeria may not be able to compete favourably with other countries.

6.2.3 Other cassava products

Cassava flour

The use of cassava flour as a raw material for the bakery, biscuit and pastries industries is fast gaining recognition as a viable partial substitute for wheat. Awareness of the potential of the product was created amongst rural cassava processors through training demonstrations. Both the industrial end-users and raw material processors were linked together. However, the payment pattern by industries which is usually not on a cash-and-carry basis seems to encourage the intervention of middlepersons in the cassava flour supply business as the rural processors are not in a position to tie down their meagre capital.

The cases of breaking into the industrial market by rural/local processors of potential raw materials for manufacturing industries in Nigeria present a different picture altogether compared with the marketing of local food products. Processors of local raw materials, alternatives to the imported materials, have to contend with stiff competition in terms of acceptability by the industrialists, even when the suitability of the local raw materials for the manufacturer's process had been well proven.

The cost of producing cassava products fluctuates with the season of the year. While harvesting of cassava is easier during the wet season, starch and flour yields are greatly reduced by the high water content of the tubers. This needs to be constantly monitored for price reviews. Care should, however, be taken to ensure that the price of cassava products is not higher than that of imported wheat.

Cassava starch

Traditionally, starch is made by soaking peeled, grated cassava roots in water to separate the starch from the fibre. This soaking, apart from causing a deterioration in the quality of the starch, may modify the starch structure itself and thereby reduce its acceptability for food or pharmaceutical use.

Unsanitary conditions at most small-scale processing facilities make the recovery of starch as a by-product of other processes difficult. Apart from starch production for domestic use and laundry purposes, there is limited production of cassava starch for industrial use. Attempts in the past to produce industrial starch recorded limited success, partly because of the marketing pattern and partly because of an inadequate supply of cassava roots. To encourage the use of locally produced starch, it may be necessary to place some restrictions on the importation of starch.


At present, agricultural research is currently undertaken by 17 research institutes under the Federal Department of Agricultural Sciences and by Federal and State universities. The National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Service is responsible for research and extension coordination. Each of the institutes has a mandate for breeding and genetic improvement of specific crops.

The key national institutions in the development and extension of improved cassava varieties are the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), the National Seed Service, Cassava Multiplication Programme Coordinating Unit (CMP-CU), Multi-State Agricultural Development Project (MSADP) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Shell BP Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd., Texaco Agro-Industries Nigeria Ltd. (Texagric), United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Agip Oil Company Limited and the Diocesan Development Service, etc. NRCRI in collaboration with IITA provided the base for the rapid spread of improved cassava varieties and other root crops. NRCRI has the national mandate for genetic and agronomic improvement of yam, cassava, cocoyam, Irish potato and ginger, as well as the farming systems research in southeastern agricultural zone (NRCRI, 1992).

Prior to the establishment of the National Agricultural Research Project (NARP) in 1991, funding for agricultural research in the country had not been adequate. Shaib et al. (1997) observed that while the National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIS) have generated a number of technologies that have been successfully adopted by farmers, their capacity to meet future challenges is impaired by poor infrastructural facilities, inadequate and uncertain funding and (hence) by a lack of well-articulated long-term research plans.

NARP is now financing research, infrastructural improvements, capacity building and research extension linkage.

NARP has also formulated the National Agricultural Research Strategic Plan for the period 1996–2010.

6.3.1 Breeding and seed multiplication

In the pursuit of its breeding programme, NRCRI collaborates actively with IITA. The outcome of this collaboration culminated in the release of 15 elite varieties between 1987 and 1996. The varieties have fresh root yield potential of 30–35 tonnes/ha and they are tolerant of major pests (CMB and GSM) and diseases (CBB and ACMB) of cassava, among other desirable attributes. In addition to the tolerance trait in the bred varieties, NRCRI collaborated closely with the FGN Bio-control Programme and Plant Health Management Division of IITA (APMEU, 1997).

CMP-W played a major coordinating role in seed production. It liaised effectively with NRCRI for the production of BS and, in concert with a network of out growers, organized the production of the FS which was supplied to ADPs. The state ADPs played three key roles. First, they embarked on the extensive construction of rural feeder roads which resulted in a substantial improvement in market access infrastructure. Secondly, they supported the conduct of On-farm Adaptive Research (OFAR) by financing field costs for research institute and university scientists working in collaboration with their project extension officers. Between 1987 and 1997 a total of 6 658 cassava-based OFAR trials were conducted by the ADPs (APMEU, 1997). The thrusts of their extension programme were the monthly technology review meetings between workers and scientists and small plots of demonstrations of technologies in farmer fields (Nweke et al., 1996). These arrangements helped immensely to provide a vital link between farmers, extension workers and research scientists. Finally, the ADPs multiplied and distributed a total of over two million bundles of TMS 30572, 30555, 30001, 50395 and 4(2)1425 to farmers (APMEU. 1997). This contributed immensely to the high output of cassava in the respective states (Table 5).

Concerted efforts have been made to generate technologies that were extended and adopted by farmers. Some of these efforts include forging strong collaboration with international research centres, especially IITA and sourcing for externally funded projects.

In order to mitigate the technical problems that constrain cassava production, NRCRI pursues the following objectives for its cassava programme:

6.3.2 Agronomy

The progress already made in genetic improvement is appreciable. There are nearly 24 varieties that give good yields of roots in 12–15 months of growth. Current trends in research are towards obtaining early types (six to nine months), pink flesh types, greater resistance to spider mites, mealybugs and various diseases especially African cassava mosaic disease and cassava bacteria blight. The use of biological control to tackle the damage by mites and bugs is ongoing and is supplemented by genetic enhancement.

Management of crop and soil has been well researched. The standard spacing in sole and mixed cropped plots of cassava is 1 m x 1 m. Various combinations with other arable crops and vegetables have been tried and they show improved land usage when short season crops are intercropped with cassava.

The testing of soils before fertilizer is applied to the soil has shown that many cassava soils would need some amendments, but this should only be encouraged if the cost of the fertilizer or manure is less than the value of the incremental root yield. Only in intensive farms that are well managed farms and these are quite few, would that be likely to occur. Sound sanitary practices are now known but are not commonly practiced for various reason. The dipping of stems in insecticide solutions or suspensions to reduce missing stands in plots is effective, but its extension to farmers is as yet low.

6.3.3 Root storage

In Nigeria, several traditional methods are practiced to store fresh cassava tubers. The most common of them are:

So far the best recommended option to control microbial deterioration is the use of thiabendazole based produce (MERTECT or TECTO). It has been found to be of very low toxicity and in wide post-harvest use in many other crops.

Thus, a combination of rapid root curing and chemical prevention of microbial deterioration seems to be an improved method and feasible approach to obtaining acceptable stored tubers.

The Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute also introduced some improved methods of storage consisting of:

The use of plastic bags to maintain humidity and chemical treatment to control fungi should lead to the development of viable storage systems for commercial use. This however is yet to be adopted in Nigeria.

Table 5 Output (in '000 tonnes), area (in '000 hectares) and fresh root yield (tonnes/hectare) of cassava in states or Nigeria involved in the production of improved cassava cultivars

Akwa lbom           
Output    452.50447.70468.20791.90794.90986.86656.94
Area    55.8658.1458.5294.2791.16101.7376.64
Yield    8.107.708.008.408.709.708.57
Output     524.00636.00714.30470.821 562.35785.49
Area     3.24037.5040.3826.2593.4345.99
Yield     1 620.001 740.0017.6017.9016.7017.08
Output    176.70292.16196.90267.80427.20654.75335.92
Area    19.2017.7521.2029.2035.6048.5028.58
Yield    9.2016.469.309.1012.0013.5011.57
Output840.50832.20865.60996.701 214.401 662.702 504.802 896.862 859.723 853.581848.70
Cross River           
Output862.66775.95788.85831.371 500.351 640.301 705.291 814.401 820.312 329.601416.81
Output     690.00539.00479.80493.281 272.19695.00
Area     38.9038.9041.7061.4398.8665.92
Yield     17.7017.7011.5013.9212.8714.74
Output     456–00411 0067.80321 .97597.92450.94
Area     70.0064.6064.1035.6650.0856.88
Yield     6.506.307.309.0011.907.73
Output1 766.702 215.501 916.202 714.402 821.103 001.603 321.002 848.102 295.412 978.042537.79
Output     51.90238.64678.901 635.662328.90986.80
Area     6.5422.9067.00128.19182.6681.46
Yield     7.9010.4010.1012.7012.7012.11
Output722.00968.001 204.001 124.001 266.001 391.001 560.001 881.231 387.232125.171362.89
Yield7.4012.80 .14.1013.5015.0014.801 500.0014.9011.8012.9015.77
output934.40321.101 051.121 217.202 124.102 089.101 387.801 631.901 614.021572,611434.36
Output5704.066 152.382 751.757 646.703 567.3512 116.4013 104.4020 641.0014 052.2021561.4013217.61
Area758.62690.50678.00737.30834.011 067.031 102.721 305.651 335.241796.701200.99

6.3.4 Processing

In Nigeria, virtually all the processing steps in the production of gari are mechanized, thereby removing the drudgery of the most female rural cassava processors. The Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Lagos, successfully improved the technology, splitting the process into definite steps and optimizing each step with respect to time, product quality and unit cost. Notable areas of improvement include the use of a mechanical grater, mechanical or hydraulic press or centrifuge to replace the stone and milling to a uniform particle size. With the application of these modern operations, the quality of the product is adequately guaranteed.

FIIRO has also gone a step further to fortify gari with soybean, thereby improving its nutritional content with the protein rich soyflour. The extension outreach of the ADPs through the activities of WIA has brought this protein enriched gari to the household level. This was achieved through practical demonstrations in schools, health centres and clinics as well as to organized women groups.


6.4.1 Extension services

The ADPs are the extension arm of the State Ministry of Agriculture. With the assistance of the World Bank, pilot enclave integrated projects, Agricultural Development (ADPs), were established in Gusau, Gombe and Funtua in the 1970s. Subsequently, ADPs have been established in every state and the Federal Capital Territory. The main aim of the ADP is to increase production and farm income through adaptive research and transfer of improved farming technology based on the Training and Visit System. The ADP has responsibility for all aspects of agriculture, crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry.

Extension messages being disseminated by the ADPs cover improved cassava varieties and cassava cropping mixtures, with or without fertilizer. The technologies being promoted in the cropping mixtures are spacing and crop geometry, planting date and others, some of which are complicated and rarely adopted.

During the rapid rural appraisal survey of the Collaborative Study of Cassava in Africa (COSCA), the farmer group respondents were asked to indicate the relative number (none, few, many or most) of farmers in the village who were growing improved cassava varieties.

Analysis of that information showed that in 1989, improved cassava was available in nearly 90 percent of the 65 villages representing the cassava-growing areas of Nigeria, while many or most farmers grew these varieties in nearly 60 percent of the 65 villages (Nweke et al., 1996). The adoption rate determined through this method, compared favourably with the village adoption rate of 55 percent obtained during the detailed field level survey which involved determination of field size.

Rapid Rural Appraisals conducted in Imo, Ogun and Benue States suggested that most farmers are aware of the improved cassava varieties and have to some extent adopted them (IFAD, 1994). In Imo (southeast), almost all respondents (92 percent) were aware of them and 66 percent had partially adopted them. Furthermore, 73 percent of the farmers reported that they had adopted the recommended spacing, about 30 percent followed recommendations on weeding, but few farmers used insecticides (14 percent) and herbicides (2 percent).

In Ogun (southwest) about 85 percent of the respondents was aware of the improved varieties and about 82 percent had adopted them. Time of planting, spacing and weeding was adopted at the same level of 40 percent. Fertilizer adoption for cassava production was about 25 percent while adoption level of herbicide was less than 1 percent.

In Benue (Middle Belt), the vast majority of farmers (86 percent) was aware of improved varieties and half of these (45 percent) had to some extent adopted them. The adoption of improved cultural practices was moderate-to-low, moderate in cases where purchased inputs were not required (e.g. planting time, spacing, weeding and harvesting). However, adoption of purchased inputs (fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides) was low due to difficult access to inputs, non-availability, high and unaffordable costs and lack of knowledge about their use.

In general, awareness and adoption of improved cassava varieties were higher in Imo and Ogun where cassava is the traditional and main staple than in Benue where cassava is relatively new in the farming systems.

Of the improved cassava being promoted under the IFAD-CMP (TMS 30572, TMS 4(2)1425 and TMS 30555), TMS 30572 seems to be the most preferred and widely adopted. Reasons provided for this preference include high yield, early maturity, pest resistance and weed suppressing qualities and suitability for intercropping.

However, some of the farmers who have adopted or are using improved varieties of cassava still retain some of their local varieties mainly because of food habits and preferences or the varying uses to which cassava is put. For example, for those who like boiled and pounded cassava, there is hardly any improved substitute. The major obstacle to the rapid spread of improved varieties in all zones is unavailability of suitable planting materials.

Improved varieties occupy above 40 percent of cassava land area. The level of spread is wider in the southeast and southwest than in the Middle Belt (Nweke et. al., 1992). The spread was made possible by improved planting material multiplication and distribution and large-scale government and non-governmental extension programmes.

Although the ADPs marked the beginning of a practical approach to rural development, the NAFPP was another intervention that brought together three interrelated components research, extension and Agroservice to create a powerful effect and enable farmers to increase their productivity. The project was launched in 1973 to arrest the downward trends in food production. Cassava was given adequate attention by the project with the establishment of National Cassava Centre at Umudike.

6.4.2 Agricultural inputs

Awareness has been created in Nigeria on the use of modern agro-input fertilizers, improved seeds and agro-chemicals. During the implementation period of Cassava Multiplication, the uptake of fertilizer by the participating states and on a national scale increased tremendously. For instance, the total consumption of fertilizer rose from 186 000 tonnes in 1977 to well over 1 million tonnes in 1993. In terms of the rate per hectare the Nigerian farmer is estimated to use about 12 kg/ha of fertilizer nutrient which is higher when compared to the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 8.9 kg/ha.

The establishment of National Fertilizer Procurement and Distribution Division (FPDD), the National Fertilizer Company (NAFCON) at Onne and the various agricultural input/farmers supply companies have all increased the pace of the production of major crops in Nigeria, including cassava. The Federal Government is also committed to the sustenance of these investments. For instance, over Naira 4.9 billion were spent for the operation of the National Fertilizer Company (NAFCON) in 1996 alone.

However, improved agricultural practices and inputs are not widely in use because of availability, costs and inappropriateness. For example, the need for fertilizer is unmatched by availability due to the combined effects of insufficient supply and inefficient distribution system. Meanwhile, with the decline in soil fertility, farmers now realize they cannot get good yields without the use of fertilizer.

Farmers are beginning to use improved planting materials but they still mainly use their own materials which even though well adapted to the environment, are basically low in yield potential. Farmers rely mostly on their local planting materials when the improved variety is not available or they are not convinced about its superiority. Thus, given adequate supply and appropriate information, adoption of improved varieties would be high. Improved cassava varieties are already in use to a significant degree in the country.

Also, the farmers hardly use herbicides and other agro-chemicals. Though some rich farmers have begun to apply herbicides for weed control, most farmers lack the required capital and knowledge on the safe use of the chemicals. Their production is therefore often hampered by labour constraints and weeds. Interest in pest management and disease control appears to be increasing, especially for grain legumes where the benefits of spraying are recognized, but these chemicals are too costly and set beyond the reach of most farmers.

Access of the poor to the available fertilizer and other essential inputs tends to be limited because they lack organization and/or resources to acquire them because the extension messages are dependent on these inputs, extension is handicapped by their unavailability. To circumvent this obstacle, extension has to pay more attention to low-input technology.

6.4.3 Processing facilities

Cassava roots are perishable, spoiling within three to four days after harvest. They are also heavy, containing 70 percent moisture by weight. In addition, they contain cyanogenic glucosides which breakdown to form hydrocyanic acid (HCN), a toxic compound. Processing is necessary to reduce the moisture content and weight, improve product storage, enhance flavour and reduce the HCN potential. Traditional processing methods are very effective in reducing the HCN potential to safe levels, if properly carried out. The most important processes for reducing cyanide levels are the mechanical breaking of the cell walls followed by mixing and exposure to temperatures above 25.7°C at which HCN volatilizes.

In a bid to overcome the inherent problems of traditional cassava processing, giant strides have been made towards mechanizing several labour-intensive operations, notably grating, water expressing and milling. Various agro-engineering centres such as Rural Agro-Industrial Development Scheme (RAIDS), Product Development Agency (PRODA), Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO) NRCRI and IITA, as well as the agricultural engineering departments in several universities in the country, have developed many mechanized units designed to remove the constraints that processors face at the household level. Thus, several models and variations of mechanical cassava graters are available on the market. Odurukwe et al. (1997) observed that since the later 1960s stationary or pushcart-mounted graters powered by petrol or diesel engines have been in general use. Mechanized techniques for milling cassava chips and grains are also available on the market.

Not much success has, however been recorded towards mechanizing cassava peeling and gari frying (labour intensive operations) at the household level. However, industrial gari fryers have been developed by RAIDS, PRODA, FIIRO and IITA but these are more suitable for use in large-scale commercial enterprises or cooperative organizations, than at the household level.

Attempts at mechanizing the peeling step have achieved very limited success, owing mainly to non-uniformity in root geometry. Several hand-held tools that are more efficient have, however, been developed by NCAM and the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. These tools need to be commercialized and promoted through WIA.

Not much effort was made towards extending post-harvest technology to farmers before the IFAD-assisted CMP loan in 1989. The IF AD project had an agroprocessing component, with the objectives of removing those constraints faced by processors at the household level, promoting improved and appropriate mechanized food processing and supporting research on cassava processing.

According to APMEU (1997) substantial progress was made towards achieving the above-mentioned objectives. The recorded progress was in the form of:

Table 6 shows that mechanized techniques for grating and milling were available in more than half of the representative villages. Field observations also showed that cassava grating by traditional methods was rare. This implies that processors in those villages where the grating step was not mechanized, grated their cassava in nearby villages with such facilities, or where applicable, had this done in their homes by itinerant operators of pushcart-mounted graters.

More wide-spread adoption of the post-harvest technology seems to be hampered by its energy requirement. Most available cassava processing machines are driven by petrol, diesel, or electrical energy and for most rural households, these are scarce and expensive energy sources (Ugwu, 1996).

Table 6. Distribution of mechanized processing in Nigerian villages

Type of equipmentPercentage Of villages in 1989Total

Source: Adapted from Ugwu (1996), p.149

A cassava processing study by FAO/IC in November 1994 concluded that the returns to small-scale production of gari are low, especially for those who buy roots, making it difficult to justify investment in expensive processing equipment. Nevertheless, in most villages and towns, there is limited demand for manual processing equipment because there is already a large number of mechanized processing facilities.

To ensure that increases in root yields will be absorbed and to enhance the returns to the women who are the primary processors of cassava, alternative product markets need to be developed. Products that have the potential to provide small-scale processors with improved market outlets include flour, starch and to a less extent, cassava chips for the animal feed industry. IITA has begun a pilot programme with groups of women cassava processors in Ovo State to assist them to produce high quality cassava flour that is suitable for biscuit and bread manufacturers. Roots of the most suitable varieties for bread-making are peeled, washed, pressed, sun dried and then ground into flour using a hammer mill. A biscuit manufacturer in Ibadan would like to purchase 40 tonnes of flour per week but this volume cannot currently be met by processors. Good quality cassava flour sells for one and half times the price of gari and costs the bakers less than half the price of wheat flour. Similarly, starch is a high value product made by washing peeled and grated cassava in water to separate the starch from the fibre. In Nigeria, wet starch which is easier for village-scale processors to produce than dry starch, sells for Naira 18 000/tonne (US$220), while food grade starch fetches Naira 40 000/tonne (US$490). Imported starch costs Naira 210 000/tonne (USS2 560/tonne). Starch is more difficult to produce than flour because the process requires an adequate supply of clean water.

The RAIDS under the Federal Department of Agriculture is the principal government institution charged with the responsibility for the development of agroprocessing technologies to suit the needs of the village or small-scale entrepreneur. RAIDS is underfunded, understaffed and poorly equipped to fulfil its role. The RAIDS staff organigram shows that of the 29 professional positions, 12 are vacant. Seven of these are at the zonal offices and five are at the headquarters in Ibadan. RAIDS has no computers, few vehicles, inadequate facilities for producing publications no testing facilities for equipment and little office equipment. Among the professional staff, only the Assistant Coordinator for Monitoring is a woman. Given the predominance of women in small-scale processing of agricultural crops, women should be better-represented in RAIDS (RAIDS, 1997).

The ADPs have promoted cassava processing through the establishment of demonstration units and the provision of training for farmers and processors. They also provided packaged processing units through the CMP. Apart from a single agroprocessing specialist at the state level and the Women-in-Agriculture (WIA) units, at both headquarters and zonal level, the most important field agents working with rural women on processing are the Block Extension Agents (BEAs) who are the female extension staff based in the rural areas. A BEA devotes 30 percent of the work time to crop processing and utilization. Under the present system, women are not adequately consulted to determine their priorities in processing. Often a package of equipment is provided that does not meet their needs as individuals or as a group. Many groups are weak and loosely organized. Some of those that are focused around equipment tend to be dependent on a patron or on the BEA. Sometimes a few powerful women or husbands take over and ordinary group members do not have the opportunity to learn how to set up and run activities themselves. The WIA staff recognize that they require additional skills to equip women's groups to plan and manage their own processing activities. They also recognize that they lack the basic business management and to mange their business operations, both the agroprocessing and WIA staff understand the need to cooperate closely and clarify their different roles to ensure that appropriate equipment goes to the most needy people and women are trained in the skills needed to set up and run their processing activities.

IITA has been working to develop new market outlets for cassava products. They are currently using a commodity system approach that integrates cassava production, processing and marketing. The approach reflects the belief that strong market demand is the best incentive for farmers to adopt productivity-enhancing and resource-conserving technologies. To retain as high a proportion of the value-added from processing the rural areas, the approach focuses on processing methods geared to small groups of women or farmers, or small rural entrepreneurs.

Market niches for high quality cassava products have been identified and processing methods developed to meet the quality requirements of these markets. Currently, the main effort is directed toward the production and marketing of high quality flour for the baking industry and the response from the industry indicates a high level of demand.

Other research institutions in Nigeria that have studied aspects of cassava processing and marketing are: F1IRO, Oshodi; PRODA, Enugu; NRCRI, Umudike; RMRDC, AbuJa; University of Ibadan; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Other institutes that have worked on crop drying and may have an impact on cassava chip, starch, or flour production are the Crop Storage Unit, Ibadan and the Institute for Agricultural Research, Zaria. There is much overlap of operations and inadequate mechanisms to disseminate research results, where these are relevant, to those who need them. Inadequate funding reduces the ability of these institutions to conduct research programmes and the publication of results on problems identified by small-scale processors.

6.4.4 Storage infrastructure

The National Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, has developed some cassava related equipment and facilities for improving the shelf-life of dried cassava products. The use of some safe agrochemicals for maintaining products has also been recommended.

6.4.5 Accessibility to markets

Apart from the access infrastructure investments that were introduced with the advent of the oil boom, the Government of Nigeria, through its collaborative development efforts with the World Bank, instituted quite a number of integrated approaches to agricultural developments such as IBRI/IDA financed Multi-State Agricultural Development Projects (MSADP-I, MSADP-II, MSADP-III). These projects incorporated such features as agricultural research, agricultural extension activities, input commercial services and a heavy dose of rural infrastructural development effort.

The rural infrastructural component of these projects was charged with the rehabilitation and maintenance of feeder roads and associated equipment and village-level water supply through a programme of borehole construction and deep wells fitted with hand pumps. As regards MSADP-I, which was implemented in tandem with the IFAD-assisted CMP, the rural infrastructure component rehabilitated over 5 000 km of roads and maintained over 17 000 km. In addition, a total of 1 558 open wells were constructed to improve the availability of portable water in the villages.

In monetary terms, the MSADP-I was implemented with a sum of US$244.45 million (representing US$166.08 million as the World Bank contribution, US$22.5 million as FGN contribution and US$43.87 million as the by states). About 31 percent of the base cost of the project was expended on rural infrastructure.

The implication of this on the cassava subsector was the relative ease of evacuation of cassava produce from the farmers as a result of the investment on road development that enhanced rural mobility. The implementation of DFRRI along with the various MSADPs (with Naira 5 billion = US$162.5 million) also facilitated the rapid distribution of cassava planting materials and the attendant increase in cropped area and production levels. It would be noted that the infrastructural development level has the potential of improving on the expansion of the production possibility frontiers of the agricultural sector in general and cassava subsector in particular. This implies that new intervention measures have a good base to build on.



Prior to the implementation of SAP in 1986, the marketing of cassava and its products had limited government intervention. Except for less than one year in 1977 when cassava marketing came under the now defunct Nigeria Roots Crops Marketing Board, the marketing system has remained in the hands of private traders.

The dramatic increases in prices of most tradable agricultural exports that accompanied the devaluation of the Naira and the liberalization of exports were not applicable to cassava and cassava products to any significant extent because as an internationally non-tradable staple food product, prices were not directly influenced by world market development.

The main sources of price increase for cassava and its products on account of SAP and market liberalization policies was indirect, through the increase in the prices of substitute products such as rice, wheat and maize. The ban placed on the importation of these tradable products raised the domestic prices hence reducing their demands, such that consumers switched over to the consumption of cassava and its products. This culminated in price increases, but the increases were short-lived because of inconsistent government policies. It can be concluded that market liberalization has not had the desired positive effect on prices of cassava and its product (FACU, 1993).


There is a high positive correlation between the increase of cassava production and the estimated demand for the commodity. Over the years, cassava has been transformed into a number of products both for domestic and industrial uses. The household consumption of cassava has been on the increase, even in the northern states, where cereals are the staple foods of the people. Although figures of the estimated demand for cassava and its products are not readily available, there are strong indications of the positive increase in the demand for the commodity. There are indications that the domestic demand for cassava, particularly as a staple food, tends to outweigh the demands of the industrial sector. As farmers are unable to meet their demand, some industries are now engaging in direct production of their cassava requirements. The conclusion here is that cassava output is increasingly being demanded for both domestic and industrial uses. There is therefore, further room for improvement in production.


There are many ways to describe the importance of cassava to Nigeria's socioeconomic life. It provides employment to producers, transporters, processors, marketers, food vendors and is a food of great preference to rich and poor in urban and rural areas alike. In quantitative economic terms, the value of all cassava produced in Nigeria annually can be estimated as follows:

From this estimate, it was calculated that: [33 000 000 tonnes x 1 000 kg x 0.25 gari conversion x Naira 28/kg at Naira 83/US$] which comes to about US$2.8 billion worth of gari.

If the fresh roots were sold directly as Naira 1 200–2 800/tonne throughout the year or at an average of Naira 2 000/tonne for an annual output of 33 000 000/tonne at Naira 83/US$, the value was about US$795 million worth of fresh roots.

The APMEU-ICR report on CMP also revealed that gross returns to the farmers from one hectare of cassava farm increased in nominal terms from about Naira 11 000 in 1987 to Naira 77 000 in 1997. To the whole economy, it was estimated that CMP resulted in over 35 percent economic rate of return.


Nigeria, by and large, has a lot of factors working in its favour as far as cassava production is concerned. Quite a number of comparative indices tend to put Nigeria in the forefront of cassava production. Firstly, cassava as a crop can thrive well in most parts of Nigeria. Secondly, cassava which is normally consumed in processed forms is a major staple crop in Nigeria. This country has a projected population of over 120 million people and therefore constitutes a large internal market for cassava and its products. Thirdly, the local market for cassava is well organized and highly competitive.

Added to these is the fact that a large number of improved varieties exist from which farmers can obtain stems for planting. These are available from private farmers who grow cassava and sell stems. The trade on the stems of improved varieties of cassava has been a most helpful development in the spread of new varieties at a faster pace than through the usual farmer-to-farmer gift system of small amounts of free stems. Furthermore, the extension strategy currently in place in Nigeria also facilitates the ease of dissemination of proven technology.

The Government has a number of fertilizer blending plants although the demand for fertilizer far outstrips the output from these companies. The Government also set up a Fertilizer Procurement and Distribution Department (FPDD) but government policy on fertilizer importation has not been consistent.


Nigeria's cassava production is believed to have more than doubled from about 14 million tonnes in 1987 to the present level of about 34 million tonnes from around 2 million ha. The main reason for the scale of increased production has been an increased demand for locally produced, low cost staple food. This is in itself a consequence of the devaluation of the Naira, declining real incomes and the import ban on cereals. These favourable conditions were attributed to macro and micro-economic policy under SAP. Cassava products, therefore, became the life-saver' or the 'poverty-alleviation crop'.

Also the policy direction of Nigeria in terms of cassava development has led to a new orientation in research-extension-farmers' linkage, especially in the IFAD-assisted CMP. Increase in cassava production and productivity was largely attributed to the rapid spread of improved varieties. The adoption level of improved varieties by June 1996 was 75 percent on average. In furtherance of this policy thrust, the variety release in combating mealybug through biological means contributed significantly to cassava production. The SPATs and farmer-to-farmer exchange of cuttings also contributed to cassava development.

Apart from general marketing and price policies, there have never been direct marketing and price policies on cassava. Cassava is a highly perishable and bulky crop and if these attributes are considered along with a relatively poor transportation system, farmers have no choice than to sell at farm gate price. Apart from very low prices, cassava has been one crop that is greatly affected by price fluctuation, hence there is the need to further pursue a policy that will encourage storage and processing to ensure that the producers enjoy reasonable and stable prices.

As part of a government policy instrument, RAIDS was established to coordinate the processing components of the CMP. However, this vital sector in cassava development could not keep pace with the level of production. An elaborate plan to strengthen cassava processing would therefore be needed for a follow-on project. Cassava processing would have to be diversified into such options as chips, pellets, flour and starch for use by households, industries and for export.

Generally, policy thrusts in some aspects have not been consistent. For some years, cassava products enjoyed trade liberation while in other years, it would be included among prohibited exportable commodities. This inconsistency does not encourage sustainable development of the crop. It is hoped that a more stable socio-policy environment would become available for future interventions.


A cursory look at the achievements of some of the major intervention strategies would give a clearer perspective of the need for further intervention in the cassava subsector.

7.6.1 Germplasm development

The germplasm of cassava in Nigeria is vast. There are two groups of germplasm: cultivars in the domain of farmers cultivation and genotypes that researchers are holding whilst in the process of assembling favourable genes into cultivars that would be released to farmers for cultivation. In the 1989–91 season, some 151 cultivars were-being cultivated in the 63 representative villages spread across the major cassava-growing areas of Nigeria found within areas south of latitude 10°N (Nweke et al., 1997). The cultivation of the crop is extending into areas north of that latitude mainly as an insurance crop against the frequent occurrence of drought-induced failures of cereal crops. The large number of cultivars grown by farmers in each local government area of the country shows that the farmers keep several cultivars for uses in different ways as they wish. Some for food, some for sale, each having some characteristics that are preferred by the consumers and users.

At NRCRI, Umudike and IITA Ibadan, there are cassava genetic improvement programmes. These include aspects for the collection, conservation, evaluation and continuous assessment of numerous genotypes so as to characterize them. This process helps researchers to know more about genotypes before they can be further used for crosses towards the creation of new and better genotypes The hybrids are sown as seeds and cuttings are obtained from the stems of that original plant from the hybrid seed. The stems are repeatedly cloned to provide planting materials for the trials and assessment that would be made in the field and laboratory as well as in screen and greenhouses.

The promising genotypes are included in nationwide field trials of the nationally coordinated research projects at 15 sites. At several locations across the cassava-growing areas of the country, field trials are established in replicated plots. Based on these multiplication trials, the root yields and disease/pest tolerance and suitability of the different varieties are also ascertained before they are eventually recommended for release to farmers to cultivate. The issue of adequate multiplication of the stems of the selected varieties is crucial to the effective conduct of on-farm trials, acceptance of the varieties and their adoption by farmers. This widespread is essential for capturing the climatic and other agro-ecological influences that affect the performance of cassava genotypes as regards root yield and their reactions to pests and diseases across the seasons.

The cultivars now being grown by farmers are conserved at the major research institutes with a mandate for cassava: NRCRI Umudike, Umuahia and IITA at Ibadan. Both institutions through their substations and in collaboration with NSS-CMP, ADPs and other units, of the Ministry of Agriculture located in many states in the cassava-growing areas maintain collections of elite genetic materials from which foundation and certified planting materials are generated.

Currently, there are very many cassava clones that have proved their superiority to local cultivars that are available for multiplication and use by farmers in Nigeria, after multiplication trials. Table 7 provides important features of such clones in the savanna agro-ecologies of Nigeria.

The various genotypes produced from the breeding work of both NRCRI Umudike and IITA Ibadan have to be tested across the country before their stability of yields and overall performance can be evaluated. The relative performance of selected varieties in the locations reflect the suitability of such locations for the field cultivation of cassava.

7.6.2 Improvement of cropping system with cassava

Arable land use in Nigeria is mainly rain-fed. Thus, most of the cropping system is dependent on the optimum use of adequate rainfall. The use of manures and fertilizers for improving the fertility of the soil is not widespread in the cassava-growing belt because of unavailability and cost. The mixed cropping of various species so as to utilize land and weather conditions is a prominent practice. The improvement of the cropping system would therefore relate to:

A 1995 survey of 1 268 cells in the southern Guinea savanna (covering Abuja Federal Capital Territory, as well as Benue, Kogi, Niger, Plateau and Kwara Sates) showed yam to be the dominant crop followed by sorghum, maize, rice, cassava, etc. However, cassava was the number one crop that was expanding in 43 percent of the cells and as the number two crop in 20 percent of the cells (Manyong et al., 1995).

Table 7. Characteristics of improved clones adapted to the savanna of Nigeria under native soil fertility without the application of inorganic fertilizers after 12 months growth

Cassava clone (best local)CMDCBBCGMProducts for which the tuberous roots are most suitedCNPDroughtYield range (tonnes/ha)
Derived Savanna      25
TMS 30572RRSFufu, Starch, GariMediumTol 
TMS 91/02324HRMRRFufu, Starch, GariMediumR 
TMS 91/02327HRMRRFufu, Starch, GariMediumR 
TMS 91/02322HRMRRFufu, Starch, GariMediumR 
TMS 92/0326RRHRStarch, Boil/Eat, StarchLowR 
TMS 92/0427HRMRRStarch, FlourLowR 
TMS 94/0239HRHRRStarch, FlourMediumR 
*TME I (Antiota)RSRFufu, GariLowTol15–20
Southern Guinea Savanna      20–40
TMS 4(2)1425MRMRMRBoil/Eat, StarchLowTol 
TMS 92/0325HRMRRBoil/EatLowR 
TMS 91/02327HRMRRFufu, Starch, GariMediumR 
TMS 91/02324HRMRRFufu, Starch, GariMediumR 
TMS 92/0427HRMRRStarch, FlourLowR 
TMS 92/0326RRHRStarch, Boil/EatLowR 
TMS 92/036HRMRHRBoil/Eat, FlourLowR 
TMS 92B/00061RMRRStarch, FlourMediumR 
TMS 92/0057RMRRBoil/Eat, StarchLowR 
TMS 91/02322RMRRStarch, FlourLowR 
*Oko IyawoMRMRMRStarch. Gari, Boil/EatMediumR12–15
Northern Guinea Savanna      15–30
TMS 4(2)1425MRMRMRBoil/Eat, StarchLowTol 
TMS 92/0057HRMRRBoil/Eat, StarchLowR 
TMS Z92/0250RMRRGari, FlourLowR 
TMS 92/0326RRHRBoil/Eat, StarchLowR 
TMS 92/0427HRMRHRStarch, FlourLowR 
TMS 92/0398HRMRHRBoil/Eat, TapiocaLowR 
TMS 92/0401HRMRRStarch, Gari, Boil/EatLowR 
Sudan Savanna      15–25
TMS 4(2)1425MRMRMRBoil/Eat, StarchLowTol 
TMS 92/0326RRRBoil/Eat, StarchLowR 
TMS Z92/0250RMRRGari, Flour, StarchLowR 
TMS Z93/0194RMRRStarch, FlourMediumR 
TMS K94/0327RMRRTapioca, FlourMediumR 
*Dailkata WariyaSSSBoil/Eat, FlourLowS7.5–10

CNP = Cyanogenic potential of storage roots
HR = highly resistant
MR = moderately resistant
R = resistant
Tol = tolerant
S = susceptible

In commercial farms, the practice for cassava root production is to prepare the land and plant well selected stems of one desired variety or a few varieties after disinfecting the cut stems with an insecticidal suspension. A spacing of about 1 m x 1 m is commonly adopted. The field is weeded or sprayed with herbicide (e.g. Primextra). The crop grows for 12–15 months before tuberous roots are harvested. The general attitude among farmers is to fertilize short duration crops with which cassava is intercropped. The pattern in commercial farms of cassava is shifting to that of minimal application of fertilizers and manures.

In a 1996/1997 trial of 25 improved clones, the fresh root yields of the clones after 12 months of crop growth averaged 34.37 tonnes/ha in fertilized plots compared to 32.64 tonnes/ha for the unfertilized plots at Mokwa (Dixon, IITA, 1998). In this trial, the dry root yields were 11.11 tonnes/ha for fertilized plots and 10.39 tonnes/ha for unfertilized plots. It is important to note that yields in experimental fields are not unattainable in commercial plots where high standards of agronomic practice are not normal or expected.

In trials conducted under the Nationally Coordinated Research Programme (NCRP), 12 elite clones grown with fertilizer had an average fresh root yield after 12 months of 25.54 tonnes/ha with a dry root yield of 8.72 tonnes/ha, compared with 24.12 tonnes/ha with a dry root yield of 8.34 tonnes/ha in unfertilized plots. In a repeat of this trial, fresh root yield was 20.32 tonnes/ha (fertilized) and 19.63 tonnes/ha (unfertilized).

The lesson from these examples is that root yields vary with the various timings for planting, weed control, fertilizer application, harvest, the type and mode of fertilizer incorporation into the soil, the choice of varieties planted as well as the level of other agronomic operations on the commercial farm. Thus, a wide range of fresh root yields is possible with dry matter content of 20–40 percent and an average of about 33 percent.

For two seasons in 1992–1994 ten improved clones of cassava were tested in eight locations across the cassava zone of Nigeria. Some plots had fertilizer applied in a varied rate according to the soil test values of nutrient content to obtain 0.15–0.2 percent °N 1 520 mg P/kg soil and 46 million K/kg soil. In all, the fresh root yields after 12 months were 173 tonnes/ha in unfertilized plots and 22.4 tonnes/ha in plots with adequate fertilizer application (NRCRI, 1996).

7.6.3 Reduction of pest and disease incidence

Most of the released varieties are tolerant to most of the known diseases. In the 1970–1980s, the mealybug and green spider mite were the most serious pests. The mealybug has been successfully controlled with the release of its natural enemy Epidinocarsis lopezi through the combined efforts of NRCRI and IITA. With the start of CMP, the main thrust of protection shifted to the control of spider mite through the release of neotropical mites (Typhlodrarnalus linonicus, Neoselleus ideaus and later T aripo). T aripo established well in field and from the first releases in 1995 and at about 20 locations across the country between 1995 and 1996. It became established within 18 months over 200 000 km2 covering the rain forest, the rain forest savanna transition and moist savanna zones of Nigeria.

Research towards the use of chemicals to control the menace of rodents in the field has slowed down and the use of integrated pest management systems is preferred. The efficacy of the biological control of cassava green spider mite has been reported by NRCRI (1997).

7.6.4 Improvement of cassava post-harvest handling techniques and product diversification

The traditional cassava processing methods tend to be laborious and concerted efforts have been made to mechanize the various operations, notable grating, mash pressing and milling. While remarkable successes have been recorded in the mechanization of grating, especially through the use of petrol/diesel engines, not much has been achieved in the mechanization of root peeling and gari frying at the household level.

More widespread adoption of the post-harvest technology seems to be hampered by its energy requirement. Most available cassava processing machines are driven by petrol, diesel, or electrical energy and for most rural households, these are scarce and expensive energy sources (Ugwu, 1996). Moreover, available machines are not gender-sensitive and are owned and operated largely by men.



In the absence of labour-saving technology, agricultural production and processing are arduous and time consuming, putting a heavy burden on the rural people, especially women. Labour is particularly a problem among small-sized households and women may depend on men for certain vital tasks such as land clearing and preparation. Communal labour exchange and hired labour are some of the devices that farmers use to ease the labour shortage problem but this source of labour is not always available. In general, poor farmers have no resources to hire labour and have limited labour and income to make effective or optimal use of their lands.

Although the CMP intervention had facilitated growth in the production of cassava, there is a need for further research interventions in the area of labour-saving devices in order to eliminate the drudgery associated with cassava production and processing.


Women play an important role in cassava production, processing and marketing. The extent of their involvement in cassava production and their contribution to household food basket vary from one ethnic group to another. Until recently, the role of women was underestimated. This misconception together with cultural prejudices limits the access of women to extension services and other resources.

With growing recognition of the role of women in agricultural production, a number of programmes have been initiated recently, namely, Women in Agriculture (WIA), Better Life Programme (BLP), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) and Family Support Programme (FSP).

These serve as mechanisms for giving women better, cheaper or more reliable access to land, credit, agricultural inputs, extension information and other resources. For example, the WIA programme in the ADPs formed several cassava processing and utilization groups and is promoting the use of improved technologies, working with the RAIDS to improve awareness of existing processing facilities. The WIA units also attempt to secure and to make available to women's groups improved cassava processing machines to increase processing efficiency.

Concerted effort must, therefore, be made to ensure that women have better, cheaper and reliable access to land, credit, agricultural inputs, extension information and other resources. The existing women-focused development programmes and other programmes aimed at the rural households in general, should be streamlined and strengthened to achieve this objective. Women also need to be properly organized to gain better access to these services and resources.

Furthermore, for some villages, the existing processing facilities are too far away. This increases the cost of processing and reduces quality of product and income. Studies have shown that returns to small-scale processing are low making it difficult to justify investment in expensive processing equipment.

To increase processing efficiency, save labour and improve the margin of profit for women who are the primary processors of cassava, there is a need for improved access to processing facilities and improved processing technology to remove drudgery and produce higher value cassava products, such as flour and starch. This underscores the need to design machines that are gender specific for women who play a major role in cassava production and processing.

There is also a need to strengthen the capacity of the ADPs, to involve women in cassava-based on-farm adaptive research trials, SPATs and processing demonstrations. This would involve integrating support for the WIA units into OFAR/extension and marketing and processing programmes.


Capacity building through training and skill development was successfully implemented under the CMP. Local and overseas training courses in cassava breeding and agronomy, seed multiplication, quality control, biotechnology, agroprocessing and monitoring and evaluation were organized for the staff of research institutes, NSS and the ADPs.

In general, given the high cost of farm inputs and unfavourable credit conditions, future interventions should focus on available low cost technologies easily adoptable by poor farmers: a combination of improved varieties and improved cultural practices. The aim is to expose farmers to and encourage feedback on a range of improved technology options designed to fit in the existing tuber and root-based farming system. The scarcity and high cost of fertilizer also implies a need to develop alternative approaches to maintain soil fertility; for example, increasing the proportion of legumes in the cropping system, promoting alley cropping and improved fertility regeneration in the fallow period through planting legumes in the fallow. Genotype evaluation and matching of varieties with different farmers' and end-users' requirements should be an ongoing activity.

To address the risk of men displacing women in cassava processing as more profitable outlets are developed, future strategy will support women's groups to help them to become involved in the production of higher value products. This will involve assisting groups, especially women to form direct linkages with markets for higher value cassava products and to source credits from end-users.


The experience gained in the implementation of CMP points to the fact that there is the need for further diversification in the use of cassava and its products, especially in industrial uses as chips are basics for pharmaceutical, baking and brewery industries. Future strategy should concentrate more on this with the hope of turning cassava products into internationally traded commodities. Further research into utilization is being perfected by FIIRO but needs to be further encouraged. Specific research in utilization may also be considered under the ongoing NARP.


To sustain cassava production in Nigeria, there must be a will to do so. That will involves various aspects of research and the provision of stems of acceptable quality of improved high yielding varieties. Wider usage of roots and improved post-harvest interventions will be needed for better income to accrue to producers and processors as well as transporters and marketers. Specific main aspects of recommendation are outlined by subtitles below:

Cultivars: The use of existing and new cultivars should be made popular through an extended or expanded cassava multiplication programme. Generating more varieties while not extending those already available to farmers is not good enough.

Agronomy: Better production of cassava involves the use of manures and fertilizers, crop rotations and appropriate cropping patterns to enhance fertility levels of the soil on which the crop is grown. As most cropping systems are mixed cropping, there is the need to specify dominant cropping systems in each local government area and to identify the most probable package of agronomy operations that will best suit the growing of each particular set of crops in a mixture of species.

Extension: The extension linkage with research should be strengthened so as to facilitate the spread of improved cultivars and management practices to farmers. The involvement of more cooperative societies in the multiplication and sales of stems should be encouraged. Integration of information and supply of various inputs is necessary. A group approach to extension delivery should be further promoted.

Research: The major constraints to poor farmers in cassava production are limited availability and lack of diversity in improved planting materials. Processing constraints are also a major concern. Many parts of the cassava-producing belt are beset with problems of land degradation, mainly through soil erosion. Furthermore, the uptake of existing technologies is limited. Based on these problems, a broad area of intervention should be identified. Such programmes should centre on activities that would contribute significantly towards alleviating the production, utilization, processing and marketing constraints of small-scale producers and thereby enhance their productivity, income and nutritional status.

There is also the need to develop a system for the sustainable intensification of the production of cassava through a combination of increased availability of improved planting materials, cultural practices and pests and disease control so as to improve the income of the rural poor and enhance their food security.

The soils of the area are generally of poor quality, lacking in important nutrients and easily prone to erosion. While fertilizers are very expensive there should be a deliberate effort to promote low cost land conservation measures and soil management techniques to allow for sustainable crop production.

Supporting the development of cassava processing prototypes, identification of applicable and useful technologies and incentives for local entrepreneurs to fabricate them should be encouraged. The aim would be to save labour, improve the efficiency of production, improve the quality of products and diversify to enhance marketability of products.

The objectives of increasing production and the remunerative process of cassava products would be taken as interdependent. Thus, promotion of industrial uses of cassava would be undertaken, based on the supply and demand structure for various cassava products, ensuring that cassava products are not put out of reach of the poor, making them food insecure.

Farmer mobilization should be encouraged through emphasis on a participatory development approach, family or group-based extension and seed multiplication activities involving due recognition for the role of women in production, processing and marketing and providing assistance that would enable all farmers to take advantage of development programmes as far as possible.

Institution building and strengthening and support for federal and state level agencies to ensure effective implementation of the programme are also being proposed. Funding support for various levels of research at the NRCRI and among other scientists working on cassava should be substantially increased so as to close gaps in the knowledge of the crop. Continuous understanding of the system from planting to complete use of all products from cassava is necessary for the efficient management of the cassava production system in Nigeria.

Marketing: The growing trend in the production and use of cassava has been established. What is required for sustenance and further growth is to put into place an appropriate enabling environment that would facilitate the further industrial use of cassava. This is with the hope of making the products exportable to other countries. Such traded products that could be derived from cassava are glucose, starch, pellets and bases for pharmaceutical products, alcohol and other products.

Government should, therefore, synchronize agricultural sector policies within the broad macropolicies and avoid sporadic banning and lifting of bans on importation of cassava substitute products.

Middlepersons should be encouraged to actively participate in marketing cassava by improving market access. If properly “energized”, ADPs can build feeder roads and substantially improve access to markets. The participation of middlepersons in marketing is often decried but they perform an important marketing function by bridging the gap between the producer and the consumer. All that farmers need to do to avoid possible exploitation is to group together and assist one another to present a more united front to middlepersons or traders.

Export markets for well processed cassava products which can be offered to customers in attractive forms and those which are competitive to similar grain products need to be developed and exploited especially, in neighbouring countries.

Post-harvest technology: The storage of cassava roots in a processed form (gari, lafun and flour) should be further researched and pilot studies made to enable cottage industries to adopt them.

Transportation of inputs and evacuation of products are dependent on road conditions as well as transport costs. Storage of gari in special sacks that will prolong shelf life is also needed to preserve the output.

More research is needed to develop appropriate post-harvest technologies that are cost-effective, easy to fabricate at roadside mechanical workshops, have appropriate designs and are easy too operate and maintain at the farm level. Above all, as much as possible, such technologies should not be based on electrical or petroleum sources of energy.

There is a need for research also to develop new processed cassava products as well as appropriate drying and packaging techniques for new and existing products.

The use of cassava as composite flour in the bread making industry and for confectioneries has not been totally perfected. Cassava-based bread is still considered inferior to wheat-based bread in terms of taste and quality. There is therefore the need for further research development along this line. Similarly, the domestic use of cassava in the replacement of grain-based meals would require the fortification of food to increase protein content.


APMEU. 1997. IFAD Cassava Multiplication Programme (Loan No. 177 NR): Borrowers Final Evaluation Report. Agricultural Projects Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Kaduna. Nigeria.

Asher et al. 1980. Nutritional requirements of cassava. Australian Institute of Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia.

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